The power of the human touch in web copy and content.

the human touchSome copywriters know that adding a human touch to their copy can help their readers relate to the product or service they are trying to sell.

Some consultants and coaches insert elements from their personal lives in their business writing, because it helps prospective clients get to know them as real people.

Some hard-core business-to-business writers know that interviews and case studies can help humanize the “corporation”.

But only some.

Most of the time, when I read content online, in the form or articles or posts, that human touch is missing.

Why? My guess is there are a couple of reasons.

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Don’t write too many McHeadlines.

burger McHeadlineThere are plenty of content writers out there who know how to write a good headline.

These are the folks who know that certain types of headlines are more likely to hook a reader’s attention.

They write headlines that jump out and grab you, and make you curious enough to click through and start reading. These headlines not only work well on the page of content itself, but also drive high clickthroughs when they appear on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Of all the headline-writing techniques used by these canny writers, perhaps the most common is the use of numerals at the beginning of the line.

For example, “5 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Exam Results” is the kind of headline that grabs attention. The digit catches the eye, and the promise of 5 ways to do something that is important to the reader holds attention.

There are variations on this approach, including:

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The fewer the choices you offer, the more you will sell.

paradox of choice in supermarketWe like choices.

In fact, one of the cornerstones of a democracy is our right and our freedom to make choices. We vote for the leaders we want. We choose where to live. We choose the church we go to. Or we choose not to go to church at all.

We also like all the choices we have as consumers.

We like to be able to go to a 16-screen movie theatre, so we can choose the movie we want to see. We like to have hundreds of TV channels to choose form, instead of just three or four.

As marketers and copywriters, we could be forgiven for believing that our prospects and customers will respond positively if we offer them as many choices as possible.

And up to a certain point, people do like choices when they decide to buy something.

But all is not as it seems. More choice doesn’t actually lead to increased sales. In fact, we can easily become confused and even irritated when faced with too many choices.

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The difference between an authentic voice and a paid-for voice.

authentic voice
Photo courtesy: CBC

Last week, during the fight against SOPA, I was listening to a radio show on CBC, hosted by Mike Finnerty.

He had two guests – Rob Beschizza, Managing Editor of BoingBoing, which went dark to protest SOPA, and Steve Tepp, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of the Global Intellectual Property Center.

(Yes, this post is about copywriting. Keep reading…)

Finnerty reached them both by phone and gave them more or less equal time to present their points of view.

Both Beschizza and Tepp are smart guys, and both shared very different views on the value of SOPA. Beschizza said it was bad legislation that would result in a lot of unintended consequences for thousands of websites. Tepp said it was excellent legislation that would put a stop to piracy by “foreign criminals”.

Who won the debate?

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Copywriters: Never try to change your prospects’ minds.

can't change someone's mindWhen you’re writing copy, the easiest way to close the sale is to write in a way that keeps your readers nodding in agreement.

The toughest approach you can ever take is to try to change the reader’s mind.

In fact, within the context of writing sales copy, it is pretty much impossible to change someone’s mind.

Let’s look at an example – trying to sell cheese that is made from raw milk.

Out of all the people who are in a position to buy this cheese, there are two groups.

The first group believes that raw foods are good for you, and that the various bacteria found in raw milk are also good for you.

The second group believes that raw milk is dangerous, and that the bacteria could make you sick, or even kill you.

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The secret of success is to stay focused on one thing.

the power of focusYou probably have a few friends who always seem to be into something new, each time you talk with them.

They are jumping into the latest new trend, or have discovered some amazing hidden opportunity.

You envy their enthusiasm and optimism. They seem so alive, so curious, so plugged into what’s happening. Their eyes sparkle, their level of energy is contagious.

In fact, you pretty much want to do what they are doing. It looks like a fun life, and a fun way to make a living.

But…

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