When it comes to marketing, communication is key. You know this, and yet, you probably still struggle with writing copy which effectively speaks to your target audience. I had a quick chat with Aisha Kellaway (aka Skippy) ahead of her talk at Digital Gaggle in April to find out about the techniques you can use to nail your communications and convert more business for your brand...
Hi Skippy! In today's fast-paced online world, video and images seem to be the types of content which captures people's attention the most. Why do you think it's still important to focus on creating killer copy?
I don't think it's a matter of choosing which form of content is best, I think it's more about understanding how to utilise each form of content to its maximum potential and effect, using each of them to enhance the others (no one’s advocating for blank pages full of text here!)
Visual content is more effective at capturing people's attention—images and video can communicate so much more in an instant than words can—but I also think that visual content has a lot more space for interpretation than copy.
On a functional level, its clarity makes copy more effective when it comes to helping navigate users through your site, in crafting CTAs, and in communicating specific details and benefits. Beyond this, well-written copy can communicate specific messages without leaving room for ambiguity, and with the ability to directly address and appeal to the emotions/needs of a user in a way that images struggle with and video would have to spend time setting up.
The clarity of copy is something that users will actively seek, too. Think about the last time you saw a stunning photograph that evoked a strong emotional response. Often, in situations like this, we'll look to a caption or accompanying copy to get a better understanding of the context around the photo: Who took the photo? What inspired it? Where is it or who is in it? What's their story?
On your website, an image or video can capture users’ attention and effectively communicate what a product looks like along with other, more subtle messages (e.g. in-situ photos can help communicate things including target audience, where and when to use the product, whether it's budget or luxe, outcomes or benefits of the product) but adding killer copy to the mix will add clarity to these messages and make sure that what you’re communicating is interpreted how you intended. This is necessary in setting expectations which is incredibly important in making users feel confident in buying from us.
What's the most common mistake you see businesses make with the way they communicate to their prospects and customers?
I think one of the biggest mistakes is not taking the time or doing the research to properly define and understand their target audience and what makes them tick. Companies generally have an idea of who they're targeting - but their communication is very much based around messages they want to send, rather than an appreciation of the motivations and pain-points of their audience and how their product or service addresses these. We should be communicating benefits, rather than features; what does your product or service ultimately mean to your customers, as human beings with myriad emotions, wants and needs?
For example, imagine you're selling an oven. This specific model comes with four separate doors, each with its own thermostat, timer, and adaptive setting. These are all features of the product and often this functional information is the extent of what's detailed in product descriptions. But, what you're really selling is an easier, stress-free way to cook Christmas dinner or Sunday roast for the family. You're making it easy and more enjoyable for people to host dinner parties and put on an impressive spread where everything is cooked to perfection, where they can worry less about the logistics of oven temperatures and time-keeping, and spend more time socialising with their friends, family and guests.
The lesson being, if you can understand what motivates your audience, you can start communicating much more persuasive, emotionally charged messages that will truly resonate with them.
If someone is reading this thinking that their communication strategy could do with a revamp, what's the one thing you'd suggest they look at and tweak first?
I'd always recommend going back to the audience. Who is it that you're trying to reach, who has the most potential to benefit from your product or service, and who shares in your company's values. Make sure you have a really clear picture of the people you're talking to when you're communicating on your platforms. Who are they, what are they looking for, what motivates them and what do they need to see to feel safe engaging with you. I don't think there's much you can do until you've nutted this one out.
You'll likely have more than one target audience group - so when you've identified your core segments, I'd recommend you make it easy for them to navigate to the most relevant areas of your website, where the messages you're communicating are personalised for them and their specific needs.